Tall Ships in Stavanger during the Tall Ships Races 2018 Windseeker

Bon Voyage, Plastic!

Thalassa, July 2021

– by Trainees

Sunday, 11th of July

Once we arrived in Boulogne sûr Mer we had to wait until 9 o’clock before the embarkation on the Thalassa. So we walked a bit around the festival and the harbour. Then we met more people who were joining the trip. We grabbed some food, and more and more people joined. After some time we were complete, so we played some games to learn people’s names. Then it was 9 o’clock so we could finally go to the Thalassa, yes!!! First, we had to take all of our luggage to the ship. Inside we got an explanation of the basic rules on the ship. And the crew (except for Nienke, who would come later) introduced themselves: Sam, Clara, Noor, Alex, Hans, Maarten, Kobe and Hélène. After that, they told us who was going to share a cabin. Then we picked up all of our luggage and took it to our cabins. While we were unpacking we got to know our cabinmate, which was fun! We went back upstairs for some time to talk with the others and then it was time to go to bed… Because tomorrow was the day… We’re going to set some sails! 🙂 – Dutch Trainee Amélie


Monday, 12th of July

First day! Everyone’s alive! We learnt how to steer using the compass and the rudder. It was difficult at first, but we are a good team and managed to keep it close to the right degree (perfection is overrated J). It`s very calm, almost no wind, so we actually don’t have a lot to do (or, as Lothar says: you get the weather you deserve). – The Dancing Sailors, 8-12 watch.

Our name comes from the pancakes and crêpes, pizza, cookies, pasta and porridge. We have had many midnight snacks, sometimes because we were so hungry and sometimes just because we wanted food! After our first night watch we asked the other watches if they ate something on their watch. They did not… But there is a very good reason for that: 8-12 first has dinner, 4-8 has breakfast – we don’t have any meals during our watch 😉 So yeah! That’s a little story on how we came to this specific name for our watch!” – The Midnight Snacks, 12-4 watch.

When it rains, it pours… The offgoing watch endured some heavy rain, and it was just becoming less and clearing up after we started J. This time I (Nynke) was team leader. We set some sails – everyone did great following my clumsy instructions that got better over some time – and Amélie was both our ‘steering person’ as our lookout. Morgane, Tiyano and Leonard made dinner (pasta bolognaise / bolognaise pasta according to Helène) and pleased the whole ship. The next watch was charged and ready. – 4-8 watch.

Cooking is more fun when done with friends

Tuesday, 13th of July

Today we are on our way to Dieppé, the weather is a little bit more windy than yesterday, but still calm. Tamár is the watch leader and she is doing great, we even had a private concert! We had to lower some square sails because we did plastic research with the manta trawl. The sea water goes into the machine through the trawl to the net and everything is going to the sock at the end. During this we accidentally fished two fishies (but saved themJ), we still have to analyse the sample. – The Dancing Sailors, 8-12 watch.

Hi there! We just had some amazing crêpes from Merel and Avalon, they had to improvise because we couldn’t find the rice we were supposed to warm up J. This shift was pretty calm, we had to brace once and hoist a sail. After that we had pretty much free time! We played some guitar, played with some fidget toys that were driving everybody mad and ate some snacks. Going to wake up the next shift in a bit 😉 – The Midnight Snacks, 12-4 watch.

Our watch began very early, we were all a little sleepy. When we came outside we noticed that the wind was picking up and the waves were heavier than the day before. This morning I (Amélie) was the watch leader. We didn’t do a lot this watch. We played some games, and I sang some songs while playing the ukulele.

Our lunch was something with egg, vegetables and potatoes. In the afternoon people climbed the mast. Also, we started the first part of the plastic research. We entered the harbour of Dieppe. We had to choose what we wanted to do, some people left the ship, and other people stayed. After dinner most of the trainees and crew played volleyball together 🙂 That was really fun! Only the ball fell into the water a lot of times. Also… tomorrow it is quatorze juilliet! So this evening there was a fireworks show. We all went to the beach to watch it together. That was really impressive (maybe especially as a Dutchie haha). So for most of us it was a long, but nice day 🙂 – 4-8 watch.

Climbing the mast gets easier each time


Wednesday, 14th of July

Today we didn’t sail, so we stayed in the harbour. In the morning Maarten gave a presentation about plastic and the sea. And some people went grocery shopping with Hans: for a lot of people you have to buy loads of food! After lunch we worked on our country presentations, then in the afternoon Nienke came to join the rest of the journey!– 4-8 watch

Hello again! We had some great days in Dieppe. We went to see the fireworks for the French national holiday. The next day some people went to the castle on the hill. Oh, and we also had the country presentation from France. After that, we enjoyed an apple and pear cider, some camembert and some kind of sausage. It was really good! The last day in Dieppe, we all got tested [for Covid-19] aaaand… we were all negative! Yay! After that, we did a walk up the hill with the whole group. We played a fun game where we needed to grab hands, make a knot and untie it. After lunch we went back to the sea. Suddenly the anchor dropped and we could have a swim. Very nice, really cool afternoon! – The Midnight Snacks, 12-4 watch.

After swimming, we pulled up the anchor, and set many sails. Everyone was still awake, so we finished quite fast. Some of us who had not climbed before went to the mast together with someone who had climbed before, to unleash (?) the staysails – 4-8 watch.

Swimming time!


Thursday, 15th of July

This night shift is really calm. We didn’t really do much. First we learnt some knots. Than we just sat and talked. After that we ate some pizza, which was really nice. Some people played guitar. At one point we were actually going backwards so we had to put on the engine. We got a dilemma from the other shift: would you rather have arms as long as your toes or toes as long as your arms? Almost everyone chose the second one. That was pretty much it for this shift. Good night! – The Midnight Snacks, 12-4 watch.

Sooo here I am. Our watch started 2 hours later than normal, so from 6-8. I was just yelling some things and then they were just oké Hannah is the watch leader. But I felt like I wasn’t ready… Still they wanted me to be the watch leader so yeah I was the watch leader. In the other watches we didn’t have to do a lot but in this watch we did have to do a lot, at least it felt like it.

So we started with bracing. It was a bit chaotic but it went quite oké. After that we had to set some sails. I knew how to do the square sails but the other ones… Well luckily Alex en Clara helped me and it was nice because they didn’t tell me where the rope from a sail was, no they told me what I should do to find it. I really liked that because I learn way more when it happens that way. In the beginning it was quite hard to find them but it became easier as we set more sails. The ropes were the same, the place was just different. But I managed to find them, with of course some help. I really liked it that I could yell to people, not with mean intentions 🙂 Soo in the end I actually liked it and it went really well! – 4-8 watch.


Exploring new places with Thalassa waiting for us on anchor

Wednesday, 16th of July

I learn write on the logbook. – T.L., The Dancing Sailors, 8-12 watch.

Today is a very sunny day with good wind. We don’t have many things to do, so we played a game: we had to think about the fact if we would prefer to die now or to live forever. So everyone told their own opinion, and they were all different. L.C, The Dancing Sailors, 8-12 watch.

Good midnight! I am going to talk about earlier today. Almost all of us slept through breakfast this morning and woke up around 11 am. An hour later our shift started in which I (Ninthe) was the watch leader. We put one sail down and ate lunch, after that we had a small workshop from Maarten about how plastics are different from each other, and how just one bottle of soap is very hard to recycle because it has so many different kinds of plastics in it… After that we had a saloon clean-up and gave the watch over to the next group.

So now we are here again, we’ve just put some sheets (the ropes that trim the sails) down a little tighter. After that we didn’t do much anymore. We did some workout challenges and then it was watch switch time and we were done! – The Midnight Snacks, 12-4 watch.

Daphine was our watch leader and, compared to some of our other watches, we did a lot this time. We braced two times and hoisted a lot of sails. Also, we had to fill in the official logbook of the Ship. The first trainees have learned from Clara, and then they taught some others. Learning from and with each other is the best, right? Also the sunset was nice, because we saw the sun rays through the clouds. And it was dilemma time! The idea is that you give the watch a dilemma, they can talk about it during the watch, then tell it to the next watch with some opinions or a “conclusion” and give them a new one. We got ‘would you rather go 10 years back in the past or 10 years further in the future?’ And we gave to the next watch: ‘would you rather die today or live forever?’ – 4-8 watch.

So we had another watch today! But we didn’t do a lot of sailing. However we took another sample with the manta for microplastics. And at the end of our watch we were allowed to climb the mast while sailing and just chilling up there. For dinner we ate pasta – penne with sauce and some salad. Our whole watch ate by the wheelhouse. After our watch there was a really pretty sunset! Some people watched from the mast and others from the jib net. – 4-8 watch.


Fishing for microplastics in the sea

Thursday, 17th of July

Yesterday we had a very chill watch. The sun was beautiful and most of us climbed the mast, but it was quite scary! The sun went down and with some music it was a really nice evening! This morning we learned how to splice a rope. It was really cool to do since it involved burning the rope to cut it. We also learned how to steer inside. – The Dancing Sailors, 8-12 watch.

Today we arrived in the beautiful harbour of Aber-Weach. We got quite lucky because there was a little festival. Some of us went for a walk, some of us went to the beach. There was quite a lot of wind so a lot of catamarans and windsurfs were out there, looking really nice from the beach. Then everyone went back to the ship, where we had another very nice dinner prepared by our beloved Hans. And after a short speech from the captain telling us we were a terrible watch because we would always eat at night and not clean afterwards, we all went to the festival to have a good time, dance and get to know some local people. It was a nice little live music concert that we all enjoyed beyond expectations, having good fun dancing together, carrying each other and bouncing around.

At the end of the concert we invited the musicians on the ship but they didn’t quite understand that we were expecting them to play. So then we just put some music on the speakers and everyone started dancing again until eventually everybody grew tired and slowly went to bed, filled with nice energy and memories. – The Midnight Snacks, 12-4 watch.

Morgane was our watch leader! We didn’t do a lot of sailing today, but the sunrise we saw was amazing! And I think the dolphins thought the same, because we saw them jumping out of the water to admire it.

Some hours after our watch we arrived at L’aber Wrac’h. Some people went grocery shopping and we all helped with getting the food on board. After the captain’s talk we had free time. Almost everyone went ashore. Some people went for walk around, others to the beach, and some went for a run or did a dance workout. For dinner we ate pasta with sauce and cheese, then we heard that tonight was… FESTIVAL EVENING. There was a concert from Les p`tits yeux on the dock. So we went there all together: all the trainees, the mentors and the crew. We had loads of fun dancing together. After the concert the band come to the Thalassa! – 4-8 watch.


Friday, 18th of July

We had breakfast with freshly baked croissants! Then we got changed for beach day. We walked an hour for a really pretty beach (while singing ‘everywhere we go…’). The sand was white and the water was blue. First we had a contest which team could find the most trash. Then we went swimming or resting in the sun. Some of us swam to a little uninhabited island! After the beach day we walked back to the Thalassa. We were leaving the harbour again around 4, on our way to a new pretty place!

Our watch started and we braced and put up some sails. Tiyano was the watch leader. For dinner we ate nasi and for dessert appeltaart. After some more sailing our watch was over. The sunset was very pretty this evening. Some of us ate some more appeltaart 🙂 And later this evening we dropped an anchor in Ouessant. – 4-8 watch.

Talking about different kinds of plastic on the beach with Maarten from The Ocean Movement


Saturday, 19th of July

First we cleaned up the beach. We found a lot more plastic than on the previous beach and Maarten explained what the different plastics were and how they were used. Most of the plastics were already broken down to tiny pieces – that was also the reason why we found a lot of those. After the beach clean-up we sat in small groups and talked about what we ourselves can do to protect the ocean from plastics. Some people wanted to make their own shampoo and soap bars. Without plastics, of course! A lot of people wanted to clean the nature when they’re on a walk. If you always walk the same round and you clean nature there every time, there will be less plastic and other pollution there that can go to the sea. Other persons wanted to look closer at what they buy. For example clothing without plastic, or food without a plastic package. Everyone had something they knew they could do. It was all different but we all knew it was quite easy to change some of our habits to help the ocean to stay clean.

After the brainstorming we did a teabag challenge. We were divided in 3 groups and every group got a teabag. The idea was to trade the teabag for something bigger and then trade the thing you got again for something bigger and so on. It was really nice to do because a lot of people were really nice and wanted to trade or they gave us something for nothing. In the end all the groups had a lot of different things: food, posters, a bag, oil, stuffed animal and one group even got a bicycle! We all took it with us to the ship, yes even the bike 🙂

When we came back to the ship it was sooo warm that we first wanted to swim. So we did. We used a rope from the Thalassa to use as a swing. Then you could stand in the jib net and swing with rope, let go and fall in the water. Ahhh it was a bit scary but soooo cool! After the swimming half of the group came to the boat in kayaks. We switched around and we kayaked back to where they came from. Then we all ate outside and then there was the best part of the day: DUTCHIE DAY. We made a song of which we were really proud, we sang it and the second time everyone joined us. After that we explained the song a bit. And then Cécile came with a wonderful idea. I could do a soccer (orange/leeuwinnen) presentation. Sooo I did it, and it was sooo nice because people were really interested, wachoeeee! – 4-8 watch.


Tuesday, 20th of July

On our previous watch we arrived in Ouessant so we had to take down all the sails. I (Zoe) was watch leader and I was quite stressed because we had to do so much, but in the end we managed and I’ve learned a lot from it. This morning at 7 we left Ouessant which means we have a 5-hour watch… We raised all the sails (except one in the back) and also braced a lot. We also climbed in the mast and the jib net to untie the sails. Now our arms are hurting but it was really really fun! – The Dancing Sailors, 7-12 watch.

Kayaking up to Thalassa

Today our shift was very calm but we laughed a lot because we played games and a lot of people were on the upper deck to chill in the sun and watch the sunset, so that was really nice. Good vibes!

We left Ouessant and made our way to Quiberon. However it is taking some time because most of the day we sailed less than 4 knots…

But we are finally sailing in the proper way! Wind has come, the moon is guiding us and we are on our way, 50 miles to our destination. It is so exciting to sail again after some days without any wind. There are no waves yet, so that makes it even better. In fact, this morning watch has been very active. We set almost all the sails, there was some wind still. Then it disappeared. Wish it will continue. –The Dancing Sailors, 8-12 watch.

We started with a cleaning round, then we had lunch. After lunch we slowed down and got to swim. It wasn’t a very active day, so this was almost all we did. We didn’t get to sail a lot because there was almost no wind, only when our night shift started. Here we got to hoist the sails. Groeten Cees, PS. We saw a lot of dolphins. – The Midnight Snacks, 12-4 watch.

In the morning our watch could sleep a bit longer, we sailed a bit, ate banana bread and swam! Just a nice and calm day on the Thalassa. For lunch we ate French toast, pain perdu. During our watch at one po

Sail Training is a serious business.

int the ship was going very slow so we were allowed to jump in the water really fast. – 4-8 watch.


Wednesday, 21st of July

This morning when our watch started (4-8) we had to tag and Sam explained what we are going to do and how. I was very excited and I think the others from the watch as well, because we got to do a lot in our watch! So when everyone was in their places we started, Sam was motivating us all to pull as hard as we could so we did. It went quite smoothly and it was really nice to do!

After the watch some of us slept, cause we were quite tired. During the day it was really warm and sunny, unfortunately we lost our logbook so we’re a little tiny bit behind… After lunch the captain said that we would be arriving around 08:00 the next morning… and that it would be our last night watch L Then Nienke came with the big baguette bag (the bbb?) and pulled out a pink Helly Hansen sweater… Cees! She said there would be a question with actions.

This resulted in Cees eating 4 teaspoons of Sambal, Ninthe promising to do a synchronised swimming show together with Sam, and we (our watch) promising to bake everyone pancakes for breakfast. Afterwards Tamár asked us to eat less meat. She challenged all of us to live as a vegetarian for one day. She was quite shocked by the amount of meat used in the kitchen every day. During our discussion there were a lot of dolphins; she was constantly interrupted by a new group of dolphins, really a lot.

Last but not least, Lothar announced that the last evening will be ‘Thalassa’s got talent’, so the watch became really nice (Charles and Zoe practicing songs). Because it was one of our last watches, Amélie asked to be watch leader and hoped it would be a busy watch. Unfortunately, when she asked Noor what we could do, Noor said: go and get a music box 🙂 There wasn’t much wind sadly, but very sunny though. Then Amé got something to do: taking some square sails down. At the beginning of the trip I didn’t want to climb much, but when I did a few staysails, I really started to like it a lot!

Then we were on the engine for a while until Clara found out that one of the filters was leaking (she went for check-up and saw it). Alex and Sam fixed it and we went out. In the evening we had an amazing Belgian dinner and a nice dessert. After dinner we took down the jibs and forestaysail and arrived at Ouessant. In the afternoon, Cees had been practising the throwing of the ‘kikkenbeleg’ and brought me on the idea of hearing how to throw the ‘paalsteek’ (bowline?) then we both tried to throw a knot, but I couldn’t. (on the last day I could though) – 4-8 watch.

During our first watch Lothar, Captain Sam and I had to repair one of the 3 foresails. The rollers had to be replaced. I also learned a new knot together with Maarten. We also had a great time sitting together in the jib net, first to tie up the sails and then to just hang out. –The Dancing Sailors, 8-12 watch.

I think our watches are in general really great. The times we have our watch is nice, because it’s not in the middle of the night and the middle of the day. It’s just after breakfast and after dinner. And we get enough sleep, because we can sleep from 12 to half past 7. Also, the people are very nice. It’s always fun with each other.

Another knot mastered!

This watch, the morning one, I steered for an hour. I like steering, because you always have to do something, but it’s really relaxed, too. After steering (Louise took it over from me) we set the lowest square sail. Then we practiced knots. I’m very proud, because I can make all we learned without looking! I’m sure I’ll forget them in a few days, but I’ll practise them so it won’t happen hopefully.

The weather the last few days is very nice. The sun is shining, it’s not too hot. Only the wind could be a little bit better. Let’s say the direction isn’t the best 🙂 Luckily, we could see beautiful sunsets the last few days. Every time it’s a little bit different, and every time it’s sooo pretty. Especially when there are dolphins too. It’s really sad that we only have 4 days left. I like these days of sailing so much – Tamár, The Dancing Sailors, 8-12 watch.


Thursday, 22nd of July

Quiberon is a beautiful place. Clear weather. We went to the beach to eat, play football, and volleyball. Then we sailed to Belle-Île. Again a beautiful place. Looks like Scotland a bit. We swam with jellyfishes. – The Midnight Snacks, 12-4 watch.

At 5:30 Amé and Merel baked bread and at 07:30 the 4-8 watch baked pancakes for everyone. Leonard added a French touch to our watch by adding some sugar. On Alex’s request we made some pancakes with bacon and for Nienke we made ‘ei met spek’. After breakfast, Alex dropped us off and we walked to a huge, very touristic but nice beach! Here we played football, we swam and had lunch. And afterwards some went to play beach volleyball, and others went shopping for the last nights. I do have to say that Ice Cream Shop in Quiberon was the best of these two walks.

At 4 we were back on the ship, took up the anchor and hoisted the sails for a one hour trip. It was nice, a real sail. So the food was, on request of Tamár, vegetarian and we enjoyed it very much. We had vegetarian hamburgers on bread and salads. That night the Belgian evening started. Our goal was to become a true Belgian and to fulfill that, we had to do some challenges, for example, draw a cartoon, dance the ‘Bolmpendans’– 4-8 watch.

Sustainable toothbrushing with Smyle


Friday, 23rd of July

I woke up at 05:30 to make the bread with Hans (later than usually because breakfast was at 08:45). After breakfast our group divided in two: some of us went for a walk across the Island, while the rest sailed the Thalassa to the other side. I walked with Julia, Simon and Helene just to the lighthouse and afterwards to the city where we would meet. The walk ended up longer than we suspected, so when we arrived at a small town, Simon suggested that we could try car stop 🙂 We tried and Julia and Hélene got into a really cute yellow car and soon after Simon and I could go too. But not before we saw Merel, Marlies and Lothar, they were going to walk the whole end to the meeting point (brave!) and wished us good luck. In the city, Julia and I met Zoe and Emelie, and Emelie treated us to a typical local street pastry, I don’t remember the name but it was a kind of croissant with caramel and sugar.

Back on board, dinner was a really delicious lasagne (I had the vegetarian one again!) and after dinner many of us started writing our letters to our future selves, and each other. After, we received two ropes from Avalon and Nienke: one black one, and one another colour (pink, red or green). The game was to trade with each other to get same colour for every watch. We choose pink (correction: Hannah chose pink) so we all have a black-pink bracelet or keychain now.

That evening, Merel and Nienke baked some amazing bread, exploding of those seeds in the oven made the bread even tastier 😉 I went to bed quite early, because tomorrow will be our last night watch! I’m happy, because I thought before we wouldn’t have any night watches anymore! – 4-8 watch.


Our journey was supported by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union

Sunday, 25th of July

The last morning 🙁 We had to leave the ship around 10 o‘clock, but before that we had our last breakfast together, cleaned the cabins more (Dauphine did all the mirrors as a result of the lost and found bag) and grabbed our stuff and put it outside. We did a last pokey in the nosey haha, all negative! And we got a certificate of completion. Nienke signed off our trainee logbooks. We sat together as a group and Sam said something as well as Nienke. And last but not least we hugged each other tight and said goodbye! We hope to keep in contact and see each other again. We all stepped off the ship one by one and said goodbye and thank you very much to the crew. And some of us took a last picture. Then it was time to go… L Some left with their parents, but a lot of us went together with the same train to Paris and sad goodbye again for the last time. – 4-8 watch.


All photos by Lothar Van Diessen